Sen. President Don Harmon

SPRINGFIELD – For the second time this month – and the first time in 20 years – Illinois’ General Obligation bond rating has received upgrades from two of the nation’s primary credit rating agencies – a move Senate President Don Harmon calls a result of stability and responsibility.

“This is further proof we are on the right track in balancing our fiscal realities with the real-world needs of working men and women,” said Harmon (D-Oak Park). We are moving Illinois forward by paying our debts while at the same time investing in education, health care, child care and other key programs people need to get ahead.”

The latest upgrade comes from S&P Global Ratings, which comes as the state trimmed down its bill backlog from $16.7 billion to $2.9 billion in a course of just a few years.

S&P’s upgrade follows a similar report from Moody’s Investors Service, both of which indicate a stable outlook for Illinois’ economy, meaning state borrowing will cost less, which will in turn save taxpayers money. 

The start of the positive outlook for Illinois’ economy began at the end of June, when Fitch Ratings – another of the three major credit rating agencies – upgraded the state’s outlook from negative to positive.

“Recent fiscal results and the enacted fiscal 2022 budget suggest further improvements in operating performance and structural balance in the near and medium-term that could support a return to the pre-pandemic rating or higher,” Fitch’s analysis read. 

The increased pension contribution, repayment of emergency Federal Reserve borrowings, and constrained use of federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act are to thank for the increased ratings.